As a long time member of the Massachusetts business community I am very disappointed in Sen. Scott Brown's recent votes that will harm the clean energy engine of economic recovery. When he was a state Senator, Brown supported great initiatives like the Global Warming Solutions Act and the Green Communities Act, but this year his voting record as a US Senator no longer supports his claim that job growth in Massachusetts is his highest priority.
Sen. Brown recently voted to cut funding for critical clean energy programs and to repeal EPA's ability to set limits on carbon pollution. These votes are in direct contradiction to his claim to have a "pro-jobs" record and would harm the Massachusetts economy. Department of Energy programs to encourage new technologies and loan guarantees for clean energy start-ups modeled on the Small Business Loan programs can make a critical difference in expanding jobs and moving small entrepreneurs into the green economy. Allowing EPA to set reasonable limits on carbon pollution would send the right price signals to business to invest in technologies that would help Massachusetts citizens lower their cost of energy for their homes and vehicles.
New England, led by Massachusetts, is currently the 2nd largest region for growth of clean tech, behind California. Since 2007 the state's clean energy sector, which is comprised mainly of small businesses, has grown at an impressive 65% and has more than doubled the number of people it employs. In the past two years alone, a new company I started called Here Comes the Sun, LLC built nine commercial solar photovoltaic power plants in Massachusetts. These solar plants, located on apartment and office buildings in Newton, Clinton, Ware and Springfield, employed Massachusetts contractors to build them and generate more than 320,000 kWh of electricity annually. Over the projected 30 year life of the equipment, they will produce over 9,600,000 kWh of electricity and reduce fossil fuel pollution as much as 27.8 million automobile miles not driven.
In these difficult economic times, the last thing the government should do is to send mixed signals to businesses and cut back on proven job generating clean energy technology. Yet that is the game Sen. Brown has been playing. His attempts to repeal needed incentives that simply level the playing field with "dirty fuels" and erase the only national market signal for developing clean, low carbon energy creates an atmosphere of uncertainty for businesses, inhibiting further investment and job growth. This is one of the reasons that the US dropped from first place to third, behind China and Germany, when it comes to investments in clean energy.
In his explanations of these votes, Sen. Brown claims he is trying to keep energy prices low and prevent over regulation of small business by the government. Certainly, admirable goals, but his execution is faulty. As a businessperson I can tell you from experience that you have to invest money up front to reap a big payoff later. Government has a critical role in setting energy policy, spurring businesses to follow with private investment without destroying the environment.
Controlling fossil fuel pollution now will motivate investment in the better, cleaner energy technology that we will need to power the 21st century. Investing in new clean energy technologies not only prevents costly problems but will also pay off in new jobs, and a healthier workforce and environment.
So we are faced with a choice, do nothing, and kill our burgeoning renewable energy industry in Massachusetts or continue to prepare our state and national economy for the future. As state Senator Scott Brown chose to invest in that future and the result was Massachusetts became a national leader in clean energy. But now, Sen. Brown is turning his back on the future of Massachusetts and would rather support the interests of coal and oil states instead.